St Augustine readingSaint Augustine was born in Tagaste, Souk-Ahras, Algeria on November 13, 354 to Patricius, a pagan, and Monica, a fervent Catholic. We liturgically observed Saint Monica’s feast yesterday.

We know from his writings and the witness of many others that Augustine was endowed with brilliant human, intellectual and spiritual gifts which lead him on a wild pilgrimage of heart and mind.

Following his education, Augustine was an accomplished rhetorician and teacher in Africa, Rome and Milan. His faith journey began with his mother Monica when he was a child but he didn’t complete his theological formation and wasn’t baptized for many years. In fact, he adopted the Manichean heresy as an intellectual lens to judge reality. But as we know from his Testimony, Augustine discerned moments of spiritual growth he decided to embrace Jesus Christ fully Catholic. By this time his common law wife named Una by scholars and who bore him a son, had departed. Conversion meant that marriage was not possible for him.

The gift of Baptism was given him by Saint Ambrose in Milan in 387. It is said that together with his son and some friends, he returned with them to Tagaste to begin a monastic life. While the ministerial priesthood was not in his personal discernment, the Church had decided that Augustine’s vocation was to serve as a priest in Hippo in 391, and later a bishop of that See in 397. Augustine’s ordination was lived lived in the monastic context.

Augustine was a prolific writer, an accomplished preacher, a monastic leader, a theologian, pastor, contemplative, and mystic. On this date in 430 at nearly 76 years of age, with North Africa being invaded by the Vandals and the Church devastated. Augustine mortal remains were first taken to Sardinia and later to Pavia, Italy, where they are now rest in the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro.